The Why Overhead
nytheatre.com review by Leslie Bramm
September 6, 2012
Adam Szymkowicz’s The Why Overhead poses the extenstential question, “What point do our lives serve, and isn’t everything we do, mostly meaningless and without purpose”? I can answer that simply for you- “None, and yes”. But, if the answers were truly that cut and dry, we wouldn’t have this charming and funny play.
The play begins with Karen eating ice cream, wrapped in a bathrobe and self pity, sitting at home questioning her very existence. She talks to her dog (for the sake of the symbol spell dog backwards) who is loyal and supportive. They decide to set out to find themselves. They’re going to leave the city. Their jobs. Their iphone, in search of life’s true meanings. In short, they will choose the Hobo’s life. The play then switches to the office. Set mostly in the customer service department of an unnamed corporation this ensemble comedy follows the journeys of a dozen different office workers as they try to connect and figure out the “why” that hangs over everybody. The relationships are what you expect in office archetypes.: The spiteful, dueling supervisors. The two dwebs who are after the hot girl. The disgruntled employee sitting at home talking to his cat. The dewy eyed dreamer. The characters are all naïve and ponderous. In fact part of the charm of this play is it’s youthful quality. The older one gets the less the play’s central question becomes relevant to a thoughtful life. But, Szymkowicz has expertly created a 30 something angst, and their philosophical conundrums are palpable.
There are many twists and turns in their individual stories. They are funny and shocking, so I hesitate to give you a detailed plot synopsis. Suffice to say the action all takes place in a single work day, and these characters end up in decidedly different places than where they began.
There is a Hobo song and dance in the middle of the play. I found it to be silly and distracting, but credit to the brave actors to go out there and give it their all.
Szymkowicz’s final summation is the correct one. What we deem as so important in our immediate reality eventually loses it’s vitality in time. What we have to define ourselves is, love. Love is our best capacity and the ultimate answer.
The ensemble cast, driven by the amazing, and versatile Susan Louise O’Connor, are all excellent. They work and play well together. This is the 3rd time (not by design) that I’ve seen Ms. O’Connor on stage and she is truly a staple of the Indie theatre community. All these actors deserve credit for their skills in this production.
Matthew J. Nichols helms the play and does a great job keeping all the chaos and energy focused. Andrew Lu and Caroline Berti design the set and costumes respectively; each does a nicely detailed job.
Zootopia has done an excellent job in producing this comedy. A relatively new company on the Indie Theatre Scene they are a group to keep your eye on. I look forward to what they’ll do next.